Archive for: March, 2011

Now at the Guest Blog: Le Physiologiste and Endless Possibilities!

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

You'll totally want to head over and check out the guest blog over the next two weeks!!! Currently we have the group from Le Physiologiste. Le Physiologiste is based in Quebec, and their English and French posts are well worth the read!! It's really lovely to see an entire lab blogging together on awesome science! We also have Katherine Haxton of the Endless Possibilities blog, who is a lecturer in Chemistry in the UK. And I love the way she describes her science:

"I stick metals on polymers and see what happens."

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

Head on over and check them out!!

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Wednesday Weird Science: SNAILS IN...SPAAAAAAACE

Mar 30 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

There will be no NORMAL Friday Weird Science this week.  Sci's got something special coming at ya!  Keep your eyes peeled.


But of course, I couldn't just do a week without doing my NORMAL weird science, right??  Ok, I'll be honest, nothing else really appealed to me's SNAILS IN SPACE.  You know what?  I don't NEED a reason.










Balaban et al. "Functional changes in the snail statocyst system elicited by microgravity" PLoS ONE, 2011.


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Check here for your Experimental Biology Fix!!

Mar 29 2011 Published by under Academia

As I mentioned before, I am SO excited this year to be able not only to go, but to BLOG the 2011 Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, DC! I’ve been trolling laboriously through the abstracts, looking for some great science to share. I’ll be getting in touch with various presenters, to ask if they want their work blogged, and if we’re lucky, I may be able to sit down with some of them for a drink and talk about how their work will change their fields. And if you want YOUR science shared with the readers of my blog, drop me a line (scicurious [at] gmail [dot] com)! Please send along your contact info, your abstract, and why you think that your work would be a great example of what’s going on in the world of EB. You might just get blogged!

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At SciAm Guest Blog Today: Serotonin and Sexual Behavior

Mar 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

This morning, Sci is on the Scientific American Guest Blog, talking about that new paper that's out on whether serotonin turns mice gay.  Guess what I think...go on, guess!!!  Or you can just go read it. 🙂  As you might just isn't that simple.  Make sure to also check out the excellent post on the paper by Ed Yong.

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Friday Weird Science: The 5 second rule!

Mar 25 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science

“5 Seconds!!!”

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a big fan of this rule. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s when you drop some food on the floor or ground or somewhere else that is probably pretty gross, and if you pick it up before 5 seconds have passed, it’s still considered “safe” to eat (thought whether or not it’s POLITE to eat it, is probably another issue). This is a great rule. I mean, what if you JUST bought that piece of chocolate?! What if you really NEED that piece of chocolate!? Desperate times, 5 second rule. In my previous experience, the 5 second rule doesn’t apply to things that are liquid, or if you can see anything fuzzy on the food when you pick it up.

I’ve got various friends who adhere to this rule more or less. For some, it’s the ten second rule. For others, it’s the two second rule. For most, it’s only if the food dropped is dry and there’s no dirt or cat litter or whatever sticking to it. For some, hey, those carpet fuzzies come right off, you know?

And so, I went about my merry way, telling myself (as all of us who practice this rule tell ourselves) that bacteria can’t POSSIBLY get on my food within 5 seconds. Right? RIGHT?!?!!?

Sigh. Science. Most of the time it’s awesome, but today it has shattered my treasured 5 second rule.

Dawson et al. “Residence time and food contact time effects on transfer of Salmonella Typhimurium from tile, wood, and carpet: testing the five-second rule”. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2007.
(These authors are hilarious and awesome because they cited Wikipedia for the definition of the 5 second rule. Hopefully they went in and edited it when they were done to show their findings.)

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Where is your antidepressant working? Depends on which kind you try.

Mar 23 2011 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Uncategorized

One of the hardest parts about treating psychiatric illness is deciding which drug to use. Hopefully most doctors are not too swayed by the Paxil pens or Prozac magnets that end up in their offices (though that's a great way to get those names to the top of the recall list), but often, no matter what you start with, psychiatric prescribing tends to go through several iterations. Start with a drug, it doesn't work or has bad side effects. Start with another one. Increase the dose, decrease the dose, and so forth and so on, hoping the whole time for one dose or one drug that will produce the best effect with the least side effects.

A lot of research goes in to this, too. Surveys on what drugs work for which people. Which symptoms get better results from which drugs. While a lot of this is funded by drug companies, much of it isn't. And the final goal is always the same, finding the drug that will do the best (and thus, sell the best) in the most people for a particular symptom.

But how do you determine which patients are being helped by a drug, and in which ways? You can run lots of surveys and ask, but people's reports may vary, and their rating of their own symptoms is highly subjective. Right now, it's all we have to go on. But it'd be AWFULLY nice if we could evaluate, say, a patient's brain scan, a know from the activity in there how they would respond to a particular. And this paper, with that in mind, is looking at taking a step in that direction.

Brühl, Jäncke, and Herwig. "Differential modulation of emotion processing brain regions by noradrenergic and serotonergic antidepressants" Psychopharmacology, 2011.

Full disclosure: the authors were funded by a national grant from Switzerland. Sci is funded by nothing, but motivated by chocolate cupcakes and coffee.

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In Which Sci Blogs Experimental Biology!!!

Mar 22 2011 Published by under Academia

Sci is so excited, you guys. This year will be the first time that I will be heading to the huge Experimental Biology meeting in Washington DC (as a member of ASPET, obs). And, even BETTER, the kind people at EB have decided to allow me to blog the meeting!!! It’s going to be a really good time, with loads of the awesomest, freshest SCIENCE! Over the upcoming weeks, I’m going to be emailing some people presenting posters and giving talks, to ask them if they would like their work to be blogged, and also to see if they’d be willing to sit down with me and give me some insight into what has inspired their latest projects! And if you would like the work featured on this blog to be YOURS, now is your opportunity! If you are going to EB 2011, and would like to have your work blogged, drop me a line (scicurious [at] gmail [dot] com)! I won’t make any promises, but send along your contact info, your abstract, and why you think that your work would be a great example of what’s going on in the world of EB. And if I am sufficiently wooed, you may get blogged!

And of course, Sci might be around to meet up with people. Anyone getting together? I imagine I could do with a beer. 🙂

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The Open Laboratory 2010 is OUT!

Mar 21 2011 Published by under Blog Carnivals

...and I'm in it. Just sayin'.

Jason Goldman and Bora Zivkovic have come out with this year's edition of Open Lab! With new cover art by Andrea Kuczenski, this year's version promises you 50 of the best posts of the year! I should know, I'm one of them. 🙂

So check it out, and pick up a copy. And drop by and congratulate Jason! I edited last year's version, and I can tell you that Jason has accomplished a pretty monumental task. Well done!

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Are your Allergies worst in the morning?

Mar 21 2011 Published by under Basic Science Posts

Today's post is dedicated to Mr. S. My sad, sniffly Mr. S, who has welcomed the advent of spring with raucous sternutation. We don't understand it. There's no grass yet, the tree pollen is low. But the poor guy is a mess. And over the weekend, as his playing of Black Ops was continually interrupted by vigorous sneezes, we began to notice a certain amount of diurnal rhythm.

The mornings are the worst, no question. Dawn breaks out, and the tissues do too. He's full of gluey misery until about 11am or so, when things seem to generally quiet down. And then, then comes sundown, and the mucus flows most robustly until poor Mr. S finally passes out in a pile of used tissues. Don't worry, we've got antihistamine and lots of it, but it never gets rid of the symptoms entirely.

But being the scientist that I am, I noticed the pattern, he always seemed less miserable in the middle of the day. But the POLLEN can't be all that much better in the middle of the day, right? And at night, shouldn't it be better? But his allergies are worse! Is this normal? What does it MEAN?

I turned to the lit.

Nicholson and Bogie (a very appropriate name given the subject material...) "Diurnal variation in the
symptoms of hay fever: implications for pharmaceutical development" Current Medical Research and Opinion, 1973.

Note: Thanks to Le Physiologiste for the paper!!

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Friday Weird Science: Rabbits, Cell Phones, and Sex

Mar 18 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

NOTE: Sci received word on 3/26/2012 that this study will be RETRACTED, due to "lack of approval of the article by co-authors, lack of evidence to justify the accuracy of the data presented in the article and overlap of data and figures between this article and two others". So take this study with that much LARGER a grain of salt.  And let it be known that Sci is ANNOYED by this.


Thank you. -Sci

Sci recently covered a study on the effects that cell phones might have on your brain (but as to WHAT those brain effects might DO...well nobody knows. And the effects are really small. So nobody panic.) But now it's time to cover the more important facet of constantly carrying around a cell phone: what does it do to your SEX LIFE?

After all, guys are walking around carrying these cell phones, usually in their front pockets and thus pretty near the balls, all day long (presumably its not such a problem in women, as more women carry their phones around in bags or purses, and not next to the uterus). But what does that cell phone DO to sexual behavior?


Salama et al. "Effects of exposure to a mobile phone on sexual behavior in adult male rabbit: an observational study" International Journal of Impotence Research, 2010.

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